CHICAGO -- The unofficial warrior award for the White Sox 4-3 victory over the Tigers in 11 innings Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field does not go to Alejandro De Aza, despite his walk-off hit to produce the South Siders' second straight win and sixth in nine games on their 10-game homestand.
It doesn't go to closer Addison Reed (5-1), who threw two scoreless innings and 32 pitches. And not even Avisail Garcia, with two hits and two RBIs against his old team, gets the nod.
No, this honor goes to White Sox starter Hector Santiago, who was long gone by the time De Aza singled to right off of reliever Phil Coke with the bases loaded. Santiago worked five-plus innings, allowing 10 baserunners, but limited the damage from the Tigers (69-49) to just one earned run.
Santiago struck out three and threw 102 pitches while battling through the pain of a Monday morning root canal, leaving the right side of his face as swollen as a losing heavyweight fighter. He also had an infection lifting a fever to 102.7 degrees early Tuesday as a bonus gift.
When the southpaw arrived at the White Sox clubhouse Tuesday evening, he joked with Wednesday's scheduled starter John Danks that he just might be pitching one day earlier.
"I was just messing with him," Santiago said. "My mindset was like I was going to go no matter what. The only way I wasn't going to go is if I wasn't able to walk. I said I was going to pitch no matter what if my body was aching or whatever it was. I definitely didn't want to miss it.
"Every time I threw a pitch, I was kind of grimacing a little bit. It was shooting pain. That wasn't the problem. It was more of being weak in the legs. I was in bed for 20 straight hours yesterday. I came to the field at 2 [ on Monday] and went home. I was in bed from 3 to 4 today."
While Santiago was struggling through the pain, Garcia was inflicting damage on the club that traded him just two weeks ago.
Detroit held a 1-0 lead in the fourth behind Max Scherzer and his 17-1 record, but the White Sox (46-72) had Gordon Beckham on second and Alexei Ramirez on first with two outs and Garcia at the plate. Scherzer jumped ahead, 1-2, on Garcia before he rifled a shot down the right-field line for a two-run triple.
Garcia raced easily into third, but somehow drew a relay throw from Omar Infante. The throw got away from third baseman Miguel Cabrera, and Garcia scored the third run.
If Garcia was pressing on Monday to impress his former team, he didn't have that same look in Tuesday's contest.
"I'm just trying to do my job, play hard and do something good for my team. I'm trying to win games," Garcia said. "When you get traded, that's going to happen. You want to play the same way you play all the years of your career."
"Hit a fastball away," said Scherzer of Garcia's at-bat. "I was able to get the first two fastballs by him and that's where you get caught where, 'Can you get the third one?' I thought if I would go fastball away, to at least see if he would maybe foul it off, if not, swing and miss. And he did a good job getting the bat to the ball and hitting it down the line."
An unearned run on one of three errors from Ramirez, who matched an unwanted season-high with 20 miscues, brought the Tigers within one in the sixth. Brayan Pena's single in the eighth, set up by a Ramirez fielding error, brought the Tigers even.
The score stayed deadlocked until Garcia walked to lead off the 11th against Jeremy Bonderman (2-4), and Jeff Keppinger reached on a throwing error by Bonderman on a sacrifice attempt. Tyler Flowers walked one out later to load the bases, setting the stage for the White Sox seventh game-ending hit of the year and De Aza's second of the homestand.
"They're still competing and going after it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his team. "When you're going up against a team like Detroit that's got a big lead, everybody's coming in here and still grinding it out. That's what you need. That's the only thing you can do."
For the first time since April 13-14, 2012, the White Sox won back-to-back games against Detroit. These games certainly won't have an outcome on the American League Central race for the White Sox but could have a small influence on next year's roster per pregame comments from executive vice president Ken Williams.
"What we're looking at now is who is going to deserve from this group to be asked back, because this is not White Sox baseball in no way, shape or form," said Williams, referring to the team's dismal overall results.
Tuesday's battle from Santiago certainly didn't hurt his cause. He went to the dentist Monday to check on some minor swelling on his right side and had the root canal recommended before infection really set in and he needed one.
According to Santiago, the dentist said he would be ready to go later Monday afternoon.
"He obviously didn't expect it to get infected and swell up the way it did. I didn't need it done, but I went on his opinion and it kind of backfired," said Santiago, who has not won since June 21. "I tried to battle, just keep us in the game and tried to keep it as close as possible."